I started writing poems in letter form to my ex. After our relationship ended almost three years ago, I realised how emotionally abusive it was. One of the things he told me as we dated was that I couldn’t identify as bisexual because I am attracted to anyone, regardless of their gender, and I chose not to say anything. We’d only been dating for a month, and by this point, my second tumour came back. So I didn’t want to have a label war. To be quite honest, I didn’t have the energy for it.
I was spending most of my time in my bed in chronic pain, or at the doctors, or driving around North Carolina trying to find hormone doctors. So I started saying I was pansexual again. I’m not here to tell anyone how to identify. This was the same ex I tried to tell that I thought I was non-binary. I feel comfortable as a boy, not as a man, and sometimes I use the pronouns they/them/their. I’m fluid in my expressions, but I never feel female. A month after this, I found out I was born intersex, so my identity is now super important. This ex basically shot me down any time I tried to say I wasn’t 100% male. I think part of this was the fact that I started transitioning ten days after I had the final part of my hysterectomy. Before that, he was more masculine than I was. Then I started T and because I have no reproductive organs, I started changing a lot faster than anyone expected. My voice dropped after two weeks. I started growing a beard after a month. My body started rapidly changing.
He was fighting so hard for his manhood, and here I was, on hormones, and trying to say that I didn’t feel 100% male.
We were also dating in North Carolina. So we never held hands in public or made it known that we were a couple, unless we were with other queer friends, and that was rare. But I got so angry because here was this queer and trans person telling me how to identify.
I try not to think about this ex. I haven’t dated anyone since him. I’ve been in therapy unlearning all of these things, and dealing with the emotional abuse that was our relationship, trying to notice it, and deal with it, and move on. Part of that has been writing poems to him about all the things I wanted to say. Part of that process has been to proudly claim my bisexual label.
If I am even thinking about dating someone now and they try to tell me to say I’m pan, I won’t date that person. I remember when I was 21 and came out as trans for the first time, and I knew that I was primarily more attracted to people that have been assigned female at birth, and I knew that I was still considered female, and I thought, well, I’m not usually attracted to cis men, so I can’t be bi. I don’t want to be bi. So I said I wouldn’t date bi people and I would just be a lesbian that’s a boy. Shame. Right there. There’s so much stigma. I was already feeling pretty crappy for being trans and the last thing I wanted was to have the other most marginalised identity in the queer community as a part of me.
I look back on that moment and cringe.
I look back on the moment that I told my ex I was pan, then, and I cringe.
However, I notice all the biphobia on the internet, and from well meaning queer people that aren’t bi, that are my friends, that say, well, I wouldn’t date a bi person. And I tell myself the same thing that I told myself for the first two years after coming out as Blake: You have to unlearn all the prison speak. You have to unlearn that you are really a female. It is not your fault that someone told you how to identify, and you didn’t want to fight, and you didn’t want to deal with it. And I know that the gender issue was a pretty big issue, and you were sick, and scared, and it’s okay. You can let go of that. Forgive yourself. No one is perfect. We all have things we regret. We all have things to unlearn.
I am fiercely bi now. I refuse to let anyone give me an identity that is not mine. Today I even bought a bi pride patch, and my sister is going to sew it onto a jacket for me. I am going to knit myself a bi pride flag hat. It’s taken me a long time to get to this point. As I finished this school year, a friend in the queer community on campus told me that I am such a great trans activist, and as I was in the bi spaces at queer conferences, I knew, and I knew after my friend told me that I’m a great trans activist, that I need to do more to be a better bi activist.
I don’t want anyone to learn the shame that I have. But if they have, I want us to let go of it. Don’t carry it with you.
Unlearning things is a process. It is scary as hell sometimes. It feels exhausting. Surround yourself with other bi people. Reach out to a bi group on the internet if you don’t have one where you live. Maybe even start a bi group where you live, because bisexuals are everywhere. Seriously, we make up half the community. And finally, if I could tell you one more thing, it’s that you are okay. You are beautiful and incredible and you can live such a great life, and do it being extremely proud of the person you are, and the people you love, regardless of their genders. There’s no one way to be bi. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.
I believe in you. You exist. I see you.